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February 3, 2010
With rain showers forecast for Friday and Saturday, this weekend should serve as a perfectly gloomy start to a remarkable series of five noir film classics being shown in Los Angles. Dubbed "Rialto's Best of British Noir," the miniature film festival of sorts begins on Friday, February 5th and takes place over the course of a week at the historic Nuart Theatre in West LA. The proceedings are mounted and sponsored by the nostalgist distribution company Rialto Pictures.

Rialto, founded a little over a decade ago, has been hailed as "the gold standard of reissue distributors" by NPR and honored with accolades near and far, from the San Francisco International Film Festival to the American Film Institute's Silver Theater in Washington DC to medals awarded by the French Ministry of Culture's Order of Arts and Letters. In fact, the distributor has become such a powerhouse in the reissue of foreign and out-of-print films that, in 2007, the company's tenth anniversary was marked by a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and a dedicated DVD series by the Criterion Collection.

For the British Noir series in Los Angeles, Rialto has ponied up what it calls the "L.A. Revival Premiere" of a restored 35mm print of John Boulting's 1947 Brighton Rock. The picture is an adaptation of the 1938 Graham Greene novel of the same name and stars Richard Attenborough, the elder brother of knighted naturalist and wildlife filmmaker David Attenborough who is likely best known to American audiences as Jurassic Park's Dr. John Hammond.

Also on tap for the festival will be a print of the "rediscovered" classic It Always Rains on Sunday. Directed by Robert Hamer, the eponymous 1947 adaptation of Arthur La Bern's novel about the grinding tediousness of post-war England gives a palpable example of what it means for a work to be dispiriting.

Of the other three films included in the series, Michael Powell's notorious 1960 thriller Peeping Tom is easily the darkest. A relatively ancient precursor to snuff-oriented films like Joel Schumacher's 1999 thriller and Nicolas Cage vehicle 8mm, and described bluntly by Criterion as "a frank exploration of voyeurism and violence," the film follows an emotionally damaged psychologist's son and would-be director as he stalks and murders prostitutes and models, filming all the while.

The final two pictures on the docket, The Fallen Idol and The Third Man, were both collaborations between Graham Greene and director Carol Reed. The former is based on Greene's short story The Basement Room and stars Ralph Richardson and Michèle Morgan; the latter stars Joseph Cotten and legendary writer/director/actor Orson Welles and will be presented in a new 60th Anniversary print.

"Rialto's Best of British Noir" series runs from February 5th to 11th at Landmark's Nuart Theatre (11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, just west of the 405 Freeway) in Los Angeles. Being historical reissues, all films are not rated but, given the rigorous censorship of the time, one can assume the content is strictly PG.

For a full schedule, as well as Rialto's synopsis of each picture, see the list below.

Brighton Rock


Brighton Rock (1947, John Boulting) - Richard Attenborough's psycho teenage gangleader "Pinkie" marries naïve waitress Carol Marsh just to tie up a crime's loose end. Adapted from the Graham Greene novel. ""One of the finest British thrillers ever!" - Time Out (London). "Attenborough offers one of the cinema's most convincing embodiments of paranoia and violence. One of the strongest Graham Greene adaptations!" - David Denby, The New Yorker.

Shows on February 5, 6, 9 & 11



The Third Man


The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed) - Orson Welles' Harry Lime rises from the dead, only to give pulp novelist buddy Joseph Cotten the slip in chaotic post-war Vienna. Cannes Grand Prize and Oscar winner for Robert Krasker's cinematography. One great shot after another. I've seen it 50 times and it's still magic." - Roger Ebert. "Quite simply, one of the finest films ever made." - Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times. . "Seriously, is there a better screen entrance than Harry Lime's?" - Time Out New York

Shows February 5, 6 & 10 - see schedule below.



It Always Rains on Sunday


It Always Rains on Sunday (1947, Robert Hamer) - Another rainy Sunday in London's East End - and another dull one for housewife Googie Withers, until she receives an unexpected guest…ex-lover John McCallum, fresh from a prison breakout. "Absolutely exhilarating! Has an emotional brutality and precision that most films don't dare attempt, let alone achieve." -Time Out New York. "A masterpiece… Starts out with a typical Noir situation, but Hamer demolishes the plot, transforming it into a brilliantly written choral work in which the destinies of a multitude of characters crisscross." - Bertrand Tavernier.

Shows February 7, 8 & 11 - see schedule below.



Peeping Tom


Peeping Tom (1960, Michael Powell) - The bodies pile up as camera assistant Carl Boehm moonlights as photographer of near-naked women, while working on his own "documentary" with the world's most lethal tripod. "A masterpiece full of dread, raw with vulgarity. No wonder the critics were shocked, the film was so far ahead of the game." - David Thomson. "The movie that put the sin in cinephilia." - J. Hoberman, Village Voice.

Shows February 7 & 8 (see schedule below).



The Fallen Idol


The Fallen Idol (1948, Carol Reed) - With mum and ambassador dad both away for the weekend, eight-year-old Bobby Henrey's only companions are his beloved pet snake, Ralph Richardson's Baines the butler, and fearsome Mrs. Baines. But when Bobby trails Baines to a tryst with embassy secretary Michèle Morgan, he enters a world of lies that unintentionally implicate his idol in murder. Written by Graham Greene, from his own short story. "A superior psychological drama… As the eponymous idol, Richardson is quietly splendid." - J. Hoberman. "It remains unsurpassed!" - Anthony Lane, The New Yorker.

Shows February 9 & 10 (see schedule below).



Friday & Saturday, February 5-6:
Brighton Rock (92 min) + The Third Man (104 min)
Brighton Rock: 3:30, 7:30
The Third Man: 1:30, 5:30, 9:35

Sunday & Monday, February 7-8:
It Always Rains on Sunday (92min) + Peeping Tom (101min)
It Always Rains on Sunday: Sunday at 3:30 7:30; Monday at 7:30
Peeping Tom: Sunday at 1:30, 5:30, 9:35; Monday at 5:30, 9:35

Tuesday February 9:
The Fallen Idol (95 min) + Brighton Rock (92 min)
The Fallen Idol: 7:30
Brighton Rock: 5:40, 9:35

Wednesday February 10:
The Fallen Idol + The Third Man
The Fallen Idol: 7:30
The Third Man: 5:30, 9:35

Thursday February 11:
Brighton Rock + It Always Rains on Sunday
Brighton Rock: 7:30
It Always Rains on Sunday: 5:40, 9:35

SEE ALSO: www.rialtopictures.com
SEE ALSO: www.landmarktheatres.com

--
Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other articles by Eric J Herboth.

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